Is there really a "healthy" chocolate?
We believe that our Manuka Angels® are amongst the healthiest chocolates that money can buy. They contain dark chocolate with a cocoa content of over 80% and Manuka honey. High quality dark chocolate can be good for you and it is widely believed that Manuka honey has several health benefits.
For the chocolate we use a blend of east and west African cocoa from Tanzania, Ghana and Sao Thomé. These three countries produce the most aromatic and rare cocoa varieties in Africa and are exceptionally high in quality. For the filling we use 100% genuine Manuka honey from New Zealand, with a high UMF factor.
Many chocolates are perceived as being bad for you. This is often due to the fact that poor quality chocolate is used and the fillings are often very high in sugar. With Manuka Angels®, this is not the case, so you can now treat yourself to a little chocolate without feeling quite so guilty.
We also sell solid dark hearts which use the same quality of dark chocolate but without the honey.
For those of you who are interested, listed below are several reasons why many people believe in the health benefits of dark chocolate and Manuka honey. There are also several medical journal and other references.
It is generally believed that the higher the cocoa content of chocolate, the better it is for you:
Increasing evidence suggests that dark chocolate is good for your heart - It may even have cancer-fighting benefits1. Scientists are continually finding more and more health benefits of chocolate.
High in Flavonoids
Chocolate contains plant compounds called flavonols (a class of flavonoid) which are rich in antioxidants. These antioxidants have been shown to lower blood pressure and decrease the risk of developing heart disease. Chocolate also contains two other flavanol-related antioxidants called polyphenols and catechins. Dark chocolate provides more antioxidants than milk chocolate.
Cocoa beans contain large quantities of flavonols, so the higher concentration of cocoa, the more flavonols it contains. Green fruits and vegetables such as onions and leeks, apple, broccoli, black and green teas and red wine also contain flavonols. Some researchers say that good dark chocolate contains more flavonoids than many of these foods. Others say that dark chocolate also contains more flavonols per gram than many so called "super foods" such as acai berry, blueberries, cranberries and pomegranates2.
It is thought that flavonols relax blood vessels, prevent cholesterol from gathering in blood vessels, help reduce blood clots and slow down the immune responses that lead to clogged arteries. These benefits theoretically reduce your cardiovascular risk.
The chocolate we use has the highest concentration of cocoa that is available from Callebaut so has more flavonols than most other chocolate.
High Vitamins & Mineral Content
Dark chocolate contains essential trace elements and nutrients including potassium, copper, magnesium and iron. In fact, it contains the highest natural source of magnesium, which protects against high blood pressure, type 2 diabetes and heart disease. The copper and potassium help prevent stokes and certain cardiovascular disorders. It contains the vitamins C, A, E, B1 and D.
Although dark chocolate does contain fat, much of it is chloresterol-friendly fat. Many saturated fats are bad for you but in chocolate, this is stearic acid, which does not increase blood cholesterol as it is cholesterol-neutral. It won't raise bad cholesterol (LDL) and it may even raise good cholesterol (HDL) levels as cocoa butter contains the monounsaturated fatty acid oleic acid. Researchers have also shown that chocolate reduces the oxidation of LDL, which helps protect arteries.
Chocolate Makes You Feel Good
As well as tasting good, dark chocolate contains several chemicals that have a positive effect on your mental well being. When eating chocolate, it elevates your mood because it triggers the release of endorphins, affecting the pleasure centres of your brain. It contains PEA (phenylethylamine) which is the same chemical that our brains naturally produce when we fall in love or experience joy. Chocolate also increases the production of the brain's own anti-depressant, serotonin.
Chocolate is also known to increase the blood flow to the brain and heart, improving cognitive function3.
Other Health Benefits
Dark chocolate contains theobromine which is similar to caffeine. This has been shown to harden tooth enamel, lowering your risk of cavities (assuming proper dental hygiene is practiced).
Theobromine has also been shown to suppress coughs just as effectively as many cough medicines, being nearly a third more effective in stopping persistent coughs than the leading medicine codeine.4
It has also been suggested that dark chocolate may help control blood sugar levels by increasing insulin sensitivity. It also has a low glycemic index which means that it won't cause huge spikes in blood sugar levels.
The antioxidants in dark chocolate help people at risk for macular degeneration because they can help prevent the oxidative processes that bring on the disease5.
Although dark chocolate may be good for you, don't overdo it. It is important to maintain a varied, balanced diet and a healthy lifestyle. Continue to eat fruits and vegetables, whole grains and lean protein. However, don't feel too guilty about eating a little chocolate.
Mānuka honey is produced by European honey bees feeding on the mānuka tree in New Zealand and Australia. It has demonstrated antibacterial properties and is used in wound management in hospitals. Research has found that it can fight gum disease, soothe sore throats and help with digestive problems.
All honey contains hydrogen peroxide which is produced by the bees and subsequently added to the nectar. It also contains an enzyme (glucose oxidase) which boots its anti-bacterial properties.
Mānuka honey has other ingredients that appear to have further health benefits. The major anti-bacterial compound is MG (methylglyoxal) which is found in higher concentrations in Manuka honey than in other honeys. It is this active ingredient which is responsible for the unique non-peroxide activity of Manuka honey. The higher the concentration of MG, the stronger the antibiotic effect. Professor Peter Molan (Honey research centre, University of Waikate, New Zealand) has termed these "unique Manuka factors" or UMF's which he uses to classify the strength of the honey. The higher the UMF, the higher the potency.
The honey we use has a UMF rating of at least 10. The ratings on Manuka honey can be a little confusing, some are labelled "active" and some have MGO on them. The most important one is the UMF rating - this takes all antibacterial factors into consideration. A Manuka honey labelled as "active" without having a UMF rating could mean that the honey has very little anti-bacterial properties since there are no regulations governing the use of "Active" 6. The Manuka honey we use has a certified UMF rating.
The main medical use of Manuka honey is for wound dressing and for treating minor burns.
It has also been used to fight MRSA in some hospitals, soothing sore throats and for easing various digestive problems.
Research suggests that it can help with eczema and acne.
Medical journal entries and other references: